Lori Tango

Lori Tango
Graduate Student
High School Attended
Hilo High School, Hilo, Hawaiʻi
College Attended
UH Hilo
Graduate Training
UH Hilo, TCBES Masters


Job Description:

Currently, I am a first-year graduate student in the UHH TCBES program. My thesis research will examine the effect of salinity on egg and early-larval development of an endemic Hawaiian damselfly.

Interest in Field:

My interest in entomology was ignited during a post-collegiate internship. As an intern, I had the privilege of observing mating behaviors of a rare damselfly along the Hilo Coast. Prior to that opportunity, I had no knowledge or real interest in working with insects, yet found the experience extremely gratifying and relished in my ability to work with such an enigmatic and charismatic organism. Since then, I have continued to study insects and their homes, and am continually amazed that I get paid to do so.

How did you get there?

As an undergraduate, I was fortunate to have interned with Keaholoa STEM assisting Dr. Jim Juvik with his climatology research, and UH-HIP assisting Dr. David Foote with damselfly surveys. Both internships allowed me to gain research experience and introduced me to other researchers in related fields. It was at the end of my UH-HIP internship, when I was offered a full time job as a Biological Sciences Technician.

Necessary Qualifications:

Besides an inquisitive nature (including a natural fascination, intrigue, and appreciation for living things), I believe patience, passion, determination, and a good work ethic are important qualities. As far as professional qualifications (those specific to my job include: identifying, sorting, rearing, and measuring insects), I found that many of those can be attained with practice/experience and learned on the job.

Rewards of Work:

My current research contributes to the understanding of the habitat requirements and behavioral physiology of a Candidate Endangered species. Knowing that my work can potentially prevent a rare native insect from extinction and assure its survival for future generations is extremely rewarding.

Relevant Work Experience:

  • Graduate Assistant (damselfly salinity tolerance)
  • Research Project Facilitator (examining damselfly life history)
  • Research Project Specialist (inventorying insects in anchialine pools)
  • Biological Sciences Technician (conducting stream surveys in Ka‘ū)

Typical Day:

Currently, preparation for thesis proposal (including pilot studies, literature search, and lots of reading) and TCBES course work

Words of Wisdom :

You wish you knew...:

Unless you have your heart set on a particular profession or field, travel around and try your hand at a variety of jobs. This will enable you to [1] find jobs that you truly enjoy (and those that you do not), [2] experience different work styles and learn different methods/techniques from different researchers, and [3] will allow you to identify and improve upon your strengths and weaknesses. Thus, internships, including those that are unpaid, can be extremely worthwhile.

You wish you were told...:

Know exactly what you want to get out of your job before accepting it. Setting personal (advancements, promotions, networking) and professional goals (experience, advanced training, publications) is always helpful.

Final Comments / Advice:

Do not be afraid to try something new and do not be intimidated by job postings/opportunities if you do not have the desired qualifications. Apply anyway, passion and enthusiasm goes a long way.